Some things just need to die today

1 Kings 2:24 “Now therefore, as the LORD lives, who has confirmed me and set me on the throne of David my father, and who has established a house for me, as He promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today!”

Adonijah had already attempted to take the kingdom before Solomon was crowned as David’s successor. And now he asked for David’s concubine. Concubines were only handed down to the next king, so by doing this Adonijah attempted to undermine Solomon’s authority and position in the eyes of the people. Solomon had previously shown mercy to Adonijah as long as “he proves himself a worthy man, not one hair of him shall fall to the earth; but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.” 1 Kings 1:52. After all, they were raised as brothers. But Solomon could not allow the latest challenge to go undealt with and he swiftly brought the promised consequences to Adonijah. It had to be done. That leopard wasn’t going to change his spots.

We would do well to learn this lesson from Solomon and deal swiftly and decisively with those rebellious things in us and around us. If we want to serve as kings and priests to our God then we must be prepared to deal harshly with all that interferes with that. The flesh will not change it’s spots. Neither will the world. Some things just need a speedy execution.

A certain part

Acts 5:1-2 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

As far as we know from Scripture, this is the first episode of corruption within the church. It didn’t take long for it to happen. But when it did happen it would have been imperceptible to the natural eye. If the Holy Spirit hadn’t given Peter supernatural insight into what was going on, he would have received what Ananias gave as the whole, and the assembly of believers would have rejoiced in his generosity. Ananias and Sapphira would have rejoiced in the praise of men and very possibly have gone on with the church, cutting corners with God at every opportunity. But God was having none of it and sent a message loud and clear that day- He was nobody’s fool and those who only give a certain part are not worthy of the honor due those who give the whole.

I believe Ananias and Sapphira would have survived that day if they had only admitted it was a certain part. And I believe many of us in churches across the land are in danger of making the same deceptive offering to God…acting like we are giving Him all but really only surrendering a certain part to Him.

A certain part. Not just a random part, but a chosen, a particular part. What we are comfortable giving. Maybe we feel good about fully giving God the spiritual parts of our life, but not the finances. Not the future plans. Those need to be kept back.

Whatever it might be, God isn’t unaware. Those around us may believe that we are totally sold out to Jesus, but God knows the truth about us. He won’t strike us dead for it, but we suffer loss in every area of life that we greedily cling to. Some may disagree, saying that those areas of their life are actually going pretty well. However you have no idea the tremendous things God may desire to do in those very areas if they were yielded to Him. We don’t need to be afraid of full surrender. He doesn’t desire it so He can hurt us, but in order to bless us.

So it’s up to you. Do you want a certain part of your life blessed or your full life blessed? Go ahead and give it all to Him.

Believer, the end is glorious

The world has been crazy lately in so many ways.  It’s been a time of suffering, fear and hopelessness for many.  And we don’t know what we may face tomorrow.  There is an anticipation (in America at least) that there will be a time of trouble very soon.  Turning our attention to the media has resulted in anxiety and fear of the future.  But when we turn our attention to the word of God we see that the end of all these things is glorious.

“Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the main street of the city. On either side of the river stood a tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit and yielding a fresh crop for each month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be within the city, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.There will be no more night in the city, and they will have no need for the light of a lamp or of the sun. For the Lord God will shine on them, and they will reign forever and ever.”   Revelation 22:1-5

The days ahead may very well be challenging, but we have a sure word from God – we will see His face. Hold onto this hope and let it carry you through every difficulty.

Quotes – William Gurnall

Tell some of adding faith to faith, one degree of grace to another, and you shall find they have more mind to join house to house, and lay field to field. Their souls are athirst, ever gaping for more. But of what? Not of Christ or heaven. It is earth. Earth they never think they have enough of, till death comes and stops their mouth with a shovel full, digged out of their own grave.

William Gurnall – The Christian in Complete Armour

Just passing through

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims…..

I haven’t done lots of traveling in my life, but when I have taken trips packing is a big deal. There are lots of things that provide comfort and ease of living at my home, but when I am traveling, most of these things must be left behind. Whether traveling by car or by plane, there is limited space to bring belongings along. So I must pack the things that I feel are most necessary for the place I’m going. The more things I bring with me, the more cumbersome toting them around becomes. Those who travel frequently learn to pack light. It just makes the trip easier. The trip is only temporary and we will return to our home soon. Oh if we could learn this lesson as believers regarding our life. We aren’t home. When we get home we will have comforts and pleasure in the heavenly glory such as we could not have imagined. We will not be lacking a single thing. But when we live on this earth as though this is all there is, as though it is preeminently important in this life to acquire and obtain for ourselves more and better comforts and pleasures, we will inevitably find our pilgrimage through this life encumbered and our life in God choked out. Even Solomon, gifted with exceeding wisdom by God and wealthy beyond what we can imagine, wrote about the vanity of acquiring things (Ecclesiastes 5)

We are sojourners and pilgrims traveling through this life. We are just passing through. Whatever we acquire here must be left behind when we graduate to heaven and frequently those things become the subject of quarrels among those whom we leave behind. Many of our precious treasures may be sold or given away to strangers. All the things we labored for and lived for in this life will testify against us in the next.

It is good for us to learn to travel light through this world. If we store up treasures, let it be those that will await us in heaven.

His good plans

I’ve been reading through the book of Jeremiah and I never fail to be amazed by chapters 42-43. Just as Jeremiah had been prophesying, Judah was taken captive by Babylon. A leader was chosen for the remnant that was left in Judah but soon afterwards there was an insurrection. The guilty parties were killed but the Jewish remnant was now afraid of retaliation from Babylon. They planned to seek refuge in Egypt but before leaving they approached Jeremiah, asking him to inquire of the Lord on their behalf. And they told Jeremiah this:

Jeremiah 42:6 Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.

A few days later the Lord answered and told them NOT to go to Egypt, but to remain in the land and He would bless them there. But the truth is, they had already made up their minds as to what they wanted to do and they had hoped God would have the same idea. Well, He didn’t. And so all that talk about obeying Him whether it was pleasing or displeasing to them – turns out it was just words. They wanted what was pleasing to them more than they wanted God’s best for them. How strange that those would be two different things, but often they are.

There are times when the plan of God seems contrary to everything that we hoped for, when it seems displeasing to us, or perhaps even dangerous. Usually the problem lies in our lack of faith…our inability to believe that God knows what’s best for us better than we do. Oh how much faith we have in our finite minds and our own decision making skills which have often led us down a wrong, and sometimes damaging, path. To trust God in the details of life just seems so…hard.

Sooner or later, and hopefully sooner, we must realize that “it will be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God”. Can we believe that obedience to the One who loves us most will always lead us to a place we are delighted to be?

Praise party

Psalms 65:1 …..Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion…..

As I meditated on this verse an image formed in my mind. I saw a group of people gathered together. They were excitedly making preparations as they waited in anticipation for the guest of honor to arrive. They were about to burst with their desire to exclaim “SURPRISE!!” at that moment when the one that this whole gathering was centered around entered the room . There would be laughing and joy and celebration. It all awaited the appearance of the one that the whole celebration was focused on.

Not only should our church gatherings be like this, but every day of our individual lives as we walk with Jesus. Filled with joyous anticipation, let us be found waiting, and our hearts ready to praise and rejoice in God. Whether I’m in my church, at my job, or in my kitchen, may the testimony of my life be “praise is awaiting You, oh God”!

It’s not always practical

Revelation 2:20 “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

This was written to the church of Thyatira, a commercial city with many trade guilds (similar to a union). If you wanted to make a living in this city you had to be a member of one of these guilds. The guilds would regularly have a feast which the members were expected to attend. These gatherings would involve worship of pagan deities which included some form of sexual immorality as part of that worship. The woman who is called Jezebel was teaching the believers that it was okay to be a part of these meetings because it was necessary for them to be able to earn a living in the city. It was purely a practical thing. I’m sure that some of the things she said to the people were along the lines of “God knows that you are not there to worship any other gods, and he knows you have to provide for your family. “. And so she made allowances for the people to be involved in extreme ungodliness that would taint their testimony for Jesus and would most certainly taint their conscience.

Reading this passage reminded me of what Jeroboam said when he had the two golden calves built at Bethel and Dan:

1 Kings 12:28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!”

Sometimes being obedient to God can be very inconvenient and there will usually be voices telling you that it doesn’t take all that to serve God. We must reject those voices that counsel us in ways that are contrary to the word of God. We are called to be obedient, even when it seems impractical.

A fragrant life

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?

He leads us in triumph. That word means an acclamatory procession. (Acclamatory – expressing strong and enthusiastic praise or approval; a noisy or enthusiastic expression of approval for someone or something.) Imagine the loudest parade you’ve ever been too. And now imagine your life being that parade for Jesus everywhere you go. This triumphant parade through life is sending out a fragrance into the earth.

A smell is a sensory representation of a thing. For instance, the smell of a hamburger isn’t an actual hamburger. But the smell of it reminds you of its taste and while the smell may be pleasant, it isn’t satisfying. It leaves you longing for something more tangible-an actual hamburger that you can eat and enjoy. So it is with us. The fragrance of Christ through our lives isn’t meant to satisfy others, but to make them hungry for Him.

There may be some followers of Christ who feel themselves to be always swallowed up by some trouble or temptation or fear. They watch the parade going by but feel too weighed down to join in. But there is grace to be fragrant here too – even in our most difficult times.

Who is sufficient for these things? Certainly not us. But in all things the grace of God is sufficient to manifest the fragrance of Christ through His people.

A clingy people

Jeremiah 13:11 ‘For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the LORD, ‘that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.’

When we think of people being clingy, it has negative connotations. These people become an annoyance. They are needy. They weary us. But God CAUSED His people to cling to Him, tightly, as a sash tied about the waist. And it is because of this nearness, this needy clinging, that His people would bring renown, praise and glory to God. No other people had a god that delighted in their nearness and their sincerity of worship. Pagan gods required what you could give them and had no interest in their devotees. They did not care about your fears, concerns or needs and could do nothing to help. Bring your offering and then go about your life. But Yahweh wanted to BE their life. He want to be our life. He wants us close, clinging, loving Him and receiving His love. He wants to lead us into the path of an obedient life because that is where our true joy and prosperity is found. When we refuse to cling to Him we become like the sash that was no longer on the waist but hidden away, ruined and profitable for nothing.

Ironically, the place where Jeremiah hid the sash, the Euphrates, means fruitfulness. We think that it is our fruitfulness that brings glory and praise to Him, but often it brings glory and praise to us. Apart from nearness to Him, even fruitfulness is vanity.